DA leader Helen Zille's weekly internal newsletter SA Today categorically reflects the anger and despair the DA and Zille has towards the black owners of the Independent Group, in particular Dr. Iqbal Surve and its appointed editors.
The Zille's crafted sensational headlines - Media in Crisis, The Media is Compromised and Death of Press Freedom needs to appeal to her core constituency, who opposed the transfer of ownership to a black proprietor.
In the initial stages of the transaction period of the sale, the DA and its cohorts in the media rooms of the Independent leaked information and urged the Irish owners not to sell the group to Surve, (sadly all these senior journalists at Independent were white and have all subsequently left).
The reality is that there is no crisis of media freedom in South Africa, despite the hysterical cries of Madam Zille. A recent scan of the World Association Newspapers and Publishers does not highlight SA as a red flag for press freedom. Of the 61 journalists killed in the line of duty in 2014, none occurred on SA soil. So Madam Zille spread lies elsewhere and does our news industry a disservice for her narrow petty party political objectives.
All must accept the fact that black ownership of industries is a reality, but more importantly an investment imperative. The sad reality is that black ownership is not a priority for Zille and her government in the Western Cape or City of Cape Town.
Since the Independent Group's sale, Zille has made it her target to undermine the new leader at Independent House. Her rein of supremacy under the O Reilley's has come to an end. Her ability to summons editors to her offices was no longer allowed. This has infuriated the Madam.
The fact that editors are no longer at her beck and call infuriates her and sadly Anees Salie has become a target. This is by no means coincidental, as Anees Salie has a long and proud tradition in the ANC, in the underground movement of the liberation struggle and above all a journalist with good credentials, who won't allow Madam Zille to boss him around.
It is interesting that Zille uses the schools fight as example of her concerns about the Independent Group's freedom of the press. Yes, the judgment was not in favour the applicants (the NGO's, farmworkers and civics) but the outcome of the total fight was a victory. Provincial government was forced to re-consider its actions. The reputation damage suffered by Zille and her government cannot be ignored.
For 2 years parents pleaded with Zille not to close these schools, yet her arrogance drove her administration to spend millions of Rand in legal fees to prove the point that she makes decisions in this province and nobody else. Now she claims to have a change in heart. So, indeed the Argus was correct! The provincial government is backtracking on schools closure. It was a victory for poor communities and defeat for the DA administration.
Zille raises the matter of plagiarism. Indeed this is serious, if true. Why does she act as complainant, prosecutor and judge in these allegations? Why does she not refer her complaint to the Press Ombudsman? Unless... her allegations are questionable and there is no merit to her case! And what motive is at the underlying rationale?
Zille's fixation that she is the alpha and omega of journalism needs to stop. It is typical her take that it's either her way or the highway! Social commentator Eusebius McKaiser has coined the best description of what Zille represents today in SA when he refers to her attitude towards black people who refuse to kowtow to abusive tone as "the worst of whiteness"!
Sadly we live in a province where this "worst of whiteness" is so prevalent in all facets of life for Coloured and African people - where racism is alive and well. It is thriving in Cape Town, where amongst others employment of Coloured and African senior managers in both private and public sector dwindles and where Coloured and Black small businesses receive a pittance from government contracts.
This is what Zille and the DA have to represent in the Western Cape. And this we, the ANC will stop.
Marius Fransman is the ANC Western Cape leader and shadow premier in the provincial legislature.
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